Each March we take time to reflect on the amazing women who have left their mark throughout history. At the U.S. Department of Education, we realize we have a lot of women to celebrate in education. Every mother is an educator, instilling life lessons for future generations from the moment her child is born. Every sister, aunt, grandmother and even friends, help us learn valuable lessons in and out of the classroom. After all, we never truly stop learning and an education never ends.
As a small part to the month-long commemoration of inspirational women, we have chosen to highlight two women educators because of their incredible ability to break glass ceilings through their dedication to education. Please read and share these inspirational stories with the women and young girls in your own life.
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910) Physician:
After many years of determined effort, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to complete a course of study at a medical college in the United States, graduating at the top of her class at Geneva Medical School (NY) with an M.D. degree in 1849. Blackwell later used her education and experience to help other women achieve doctorate degrees by establishing the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first medical school for women, resulting in greater acceptance of female physicians across the country.
Famous Quote: “It is not easy to be a pioneer – but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.”
Share Elizabeth Blackwell’s story with your classroom:
Mary McLeod Bethune (1877-1955) Educator:
Equal parts educator, politician, and social visionary, Mary McLeod Bethune, dedicated her life to improving the lives of young African American women through the power of education. In 1904, Bethune established the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Girls, aimed to help young African American women living in the most impoverished areas of Florida get an education.
Famous Quote: “The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.”
These are just two women out of the millions who have helped educate our children. On behalf of all of us at the U.S. Department of Education, we thank you.
Kelsey Donohue is a senior at Marist College (N.Y.), and an intern in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach